Find Your Perfect Pair of Sunnies!
Sunglasses offer not only style but also protection, keeping harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays at bay, preventing eye strain, and shielding eyes from wind, dust, and debris. To help you choose the perfect pair of sunglasses, we’ve put together a need-to-know guide on lenses, frame materials, and everything in between.
All sunglass lenses at Cohen’s Fashion Optical offer 100% protection of UVA and UVB rays. In addition to UV protection, different lenses offer additional features, so consider your specific needs when shopping.
Polarized lenses block out glare and reduces eye strain, making them especially popular out on the water, in the snow, and with people who drive frequently.
Gradient lenses are tinted from the top down, so the top of the lens is the darkest. They shield your eyes from overhead sunlight, and allow more light to enter from the bottom half of the lens, making them helpful when driving.
Photochromic lenses are chameleons, adjusting their level of darkness based on the level of UV light they are exposed to—these adaptive lenses turn lighter on darker days, and darker on bright days.
VLT: Visible Light Transmission
While UV protection is essential, sunglasses will vary in the level of visible light transmission (VLT) they offer. VLT is the amount of measurable light (not UV) that reaches your eyes through the lenses; the lower the number, the darker the sunglasses.
Affected by a variety of factors, including lens color, thickness, material, and coatings, VLT is expressed as a percentage and can be used as another metric to help select sunglasses.
|Visible Light Transmission (VLT)||When to Wear|
|0 – 18%||Optimal for bright, full sun.|
|19 – 39%||Great for average light, everyday use.|
|40 – 79%||Good for low light conditions.|
|80-100%||Extremely low light conditions, night use.|
Tinted Sunglasses: What Hue Are You?
As lens color affects the amount of light reaching your eyes, different tints can enhance color and contrast perception, as well as reduce eye fatigue in different environments.
Lighter colors, such as amber, rose and yellow, are best in low-to-moderate level light conditions where they can improve contrast and depth perception.
Darker colors, including grey, brown and green, distort color perception the least, making them great for everyday wear.
Sunglass Lens Coatings: Layer It On
In addition to lens features and tints, many sunglass lenses also have various coatings added to aid performance. Mirrored lenses have a highly reflective coating applied to the front surface of the lens, which reduces glare by limiting the amount of light hitting the eye.
Anti-reflective coating decreases light reflecting off the front or back surface of the lenses. Anti-scratch coating helps makes lenses more resistant to the times when sunglasses are inevitably dropped.
In cold or humid environments, an anti-fog coating can help eliminate the condensation of moisture on lenses that causes fogging. Hydrophobic coatings repel water, making them a great choice if your sunglasses will be submerged, such as when surfing.
Sunglass Lens Materials: Clear It Up
When shopping for sunglasses, keep in mind there are different lens materials as well as the various tints and technology on offer. Let’s review.
Glass offers the best optical clarity as well as being the most resistant to scratches. However, it is heavier than other options, and is more prone to breaking and chipping.
Polycarbonate lenses are lightweight, highly resistant to impact, and are up to ten times stronger than glass or standard plastic, making them a great option.
Acrylic lenses are the least expensive, but do not score high on durability or visual clarity, making them more of a fashion-only option (minus the function).
Polyurethane lenses are durable and lightweight like polycarbonate and offer excellent visual clarity like glass, but will also be the most expensive lens option.
Sunglass Frames: Materials Matter
Last but not least, it’s time to talk frames, which will affect your sunglasses’ level of comfort, durability, and safety, not to mention price.
Zyl or acetate sunglass frames are super lightweight, durable, and these plastic frames can be created in any color of the rainbow, making it easy to have a different look for every day.
Nylon frames are inexpensive, lightweight and strong, and can be easily molded into wraparound shapes, making them great for sports and performance frames.
For those seeking a sustainable option, castor-based polymer is a non-petroleum plastic made from castor seed oil used to make lightweight and durable frames.
Metal frame sunglasses are often offered in matte or shiny finishes, made of durable, yet lightweight materials such as stainless steel, titanium, or aluminum.
Can’t decide? You’re in luck. Many brands also offer frames with a combination of plastic and metal.
Now you’re well equipped to shop for a new pair of shades—let the games begin. Check out cohensfashionoptical.com for a list of stores near you, or visit the location at 825 Broadway for many of the brands and styles mentioned above.